The end of ‘social’: Is the digital enterprise leaving you behind?


Summary: We’re leaving the era of standalone social networks and moving to a far more interconnected world. The digital enterprise approach combines vestigial point solutions and legacy applications into cohesive next generation systems of engagement.

Social technologies are like the wiring in a device – your toaster, car or head phones won’t work without this connective plumbing. But “standalone social” as a point solution is as meaningless as buying wire for your toaster – it’s already designed around it. 

Your world is now dominated by increasingly sophisticated smart devices that are always with you, whether you are working or on your own time.

Intelligent personal assistants are becoming ubiquitous on mobile devices of all stripes – the battle between Google Now and Apple’s Siri and the rest of the pack are at an important maturity point, to some degree already superseding search with in-the-moment contextual information based on your existing preferences.

The management concepts that have evolved as a result of social media transforming global communications are now resulting in meaningful changes in the enterprise.

This algorithm-driven new world is a given for those who have grown up always living with smart devices, most of whom now live in a post Facebook and Twitter world of text messages and shared images, Snap Chat and other “instant” and ephemeral communication.

The increasingly stodgy world of Facebook’s content heavy and calendared recording of life events approach is reminiscent of AOL’s last days as the internet outgrew that old social interactions silo. Twitter has arguably collapsed under its own weight, failing to scale and missing filtering mechanisms to eliminate duplication and to help users surface important information. Most critically for the old social silo generation: They are now awash with click bait, marketing pitches and agendas.

Speed is the enemy of legacy technologies – slow, ploddy last century screen-by-screen-by-screen click through computer software struggles for relevance against the new world of instant gratification through touch screen controlled apps of all screen sizes.

The big last century enterprise software titans, point-of-sale retail online buying decisions, customer service phone calls and chat sessions – all are judged by ease and speed of use which is today’s competitive business battlefield and are causing major legacy IT refit problems for forward-looking companies. This is the goal of overarching Digital Enterprise Transformation efforts which seek to create coherence of collaboration and interactions across companies.

Crossing the chasm to get to a true integrated digital state at scale is the key challenge for the majority of businesses today

All of the above is easy to posture about and critique, but strategizing to be effective in this rapidly evolving new world is far more challenging. With the barriers to publishing of opinions and suggestions now nonexistent and with the web awash with armchair experts, sorting out the hidden sales agendas, red herrings and amateur theorists from identifying relevant strategic value is extremely challenging for business decision makers.

With the ‘consumer’ focused tech bubble now deflating fast, we are entering a new period of realism, particularly around the popular concept of the digital omni-channel, customer-focused business. Fewer people working and earning disposable incomes equals less opportunities for targeted and interactive marketing: The available pool of people to market to seems to be getting smaller…a big challenge for the the profitability of the publicly listed digital places where the partially employed and unemployed hang out online (such as Twitter and Facebook) to entertain and communicate with each other.

These social networking silos – and arguably some of last decade’s enterprise collaboration silo software – are being outgrown by internet evolution. Intelligent personal assistants and analytical tools are slowly infiltrating and learning about our proclivities, but the sheer volume of social ephemera makes it harder and harder to filter and surface value.

For business, planning for this evolution comes at a time when many are disillusioned with marketing campaign point solutions to tap into aspects of the old social world. The typical Chief Marketing Officer moves on after around 18 months and many of the cloud and mobile app campaigns their teams spin up have similar shelf lives, leaving lots of lightweight software behind after short duration tactical activities have concluded.

Enterprise-scale planning is much longer duration and arguably has the opposite problem – long-term IT planning and purchase of platforms and suites that can’t keep pace with the flexibility and agility required to be fit for purpose as the digital world evolves.

These two realities have been a profitable collision area for consultants for the last few years – myself included – but the strategic realities of the business world shifted fast in the last 18 months as we leave the limited scope of the old ‘social business’ thinking.

My old line of businesses digitizing but not transforming is now in wide use in marketing software as we slowly enter the post digital document/postage/filing era. The digital slide carousel is used to educate prospects on our digital future but to quote Steve Jobs at his height, you really do have to ‘Think Different’ about the Digital Enterprise…

By Oliver Marks

Enterprise collaboration expertise

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